Finance Food Places

The most expensive wine in the world. Romanée Conti. Burgundy. London.

MySlowTrip - Romanee Conti Vineyard

As a foodie I am of course also into wine. In the heydays of investment banking I have bought Bordeaux “en primeur” (ie on subscriptions) and participated in wine auctions at Christies in London. Nowadays I have slowed down and become very selective. My wine cellar is small but fine.

One day I went to the Mekka of wine enthusiasts. No, the place is not situated in Bordeaux. It is in the heart of France, in Burgundy, an area that is nicknamed as the stomach of France for its world class food and wines. The “terroir” (area) for wine is very special due to its micro climate and soils. The predominant grape is Pinot Noir, which is more subtle than its peer Caberent Sauvignon from Bordeaux. There is a tiny village called Vosne Romanée.

There is the most exclusive winemaker with the most expensive wine in the world: Domaine Romanée Conti. Tucked away behind white stone walls and heavy bars the place seems quite understated. There is no way to get in without prior appointment. Across the street is the shop of another winemaker. I walked in, the Madam shows me a map and explains: look, our vineyards are directly adjacent to the famous Romanée Conti one, same climate, same soil, same grapes, same age. Theirs cost from € 12,000.- per bottle, ours € 55.-. I smiled and bought a few bottles.

Now I obviously had to go and see the holy vineyard. It is a few hundred meters outside of the village, on a smoothly rolling hill. I could not believe my eyes. This vineyard is a tourism site. Probably the only of its kind in the world. Right next to it is a big parking lot for the tourist buses during high season. I bet some of them tried to take some of the most famous wine grapes with them back home. The actual garden is small, just about 1 hectar, surrounded by a massive wall. It is video CCTV surveilled. I love being at truly authentic places.

Fast forward across the channel. I am London fanatic. Having lived there for a couple of years and still visiting multiple times per year, I must have have been at Harrods many dozens of times. I have never been to the wine department in the basement though. When I entered the first time, I was overwhelmed: hundreds of the best bottles of wine. Dimly lit, I asked the Lady why – against my wisdom – the most precious bottles do not lie but stand at a specific angle. She answered that a study of the University of Oxford showed that that was the best way to store wine for longevity.

I headed off to the Burgundy section. And there it was: the most expensive bottle of wine I have ever seen in my whole life. A 750ml bouteille of Romanée Conti Monopole, Grand Cru, vintage 2012, individually numbered for around USD 33,000.-. It was a wine from that very vineyard I have been to before. I don’t know how much money I would need to have or on what occasion I would spend that amount of money on a few glasses of red wine. As an investment? Probably. However, there are certainly some buyers out there willing to fork out the money.